Interview with Lavie Tidhar4 min read
Lavie Tidhar is a ubiquitous name in science fiction and fantasy circles. His short fiction has appeared dozens of times in professional publications such as Clarkesworld, Apex, and Datlow anthologies. He recently signed with Angry Robot for a trilogy of steampunk novels (the third of the series, The Great Game, having just been released). Recently, Lavie has received a lot of positive press for his novel Osama (PS Publishing) that posits Osama bin Laden as a pulp novel character.
Apex readers should be quite familiar with Lavie’s work. He has had three books published by Apex. The first was HebrewPunk, a linked-story collection centered around a group of Judaic mythical figures. The second was An Occupation of Angels, an alternate history where large nephilim inexplicably appear in various global locations after WW2. The third was The Apex Book of World SF, a book that has helped boost Lavie’s genre profile and bring greater focus to non-Anglo SF.
Stephanie Jacob: Congratulations on the March 2012 publication of The Apex Book of World SF 2. This is a wonderful collection that showcases authors from around the world, introducing them to readers who may not have had access to their work otherwise. What kind of feedback have you received about this collection or its predecessor?
Lavie Tidhar: Reviews have been very kind for the first anthology, and I think we have a very strong line-up for the second volume—Lauren Beukes, Nnedi Okorafor, to name just two!—so here’s hoping it’s well received. It certainly feels as if the first volume made a notable difference on the SF/F scene—at least, I hope so—and I look forward to building on that with the new anthology.
SJ: Did you approach Apex Publications with the idea for the collection? If so what appealed to you about Apex?
LT: I’ve worked with Apex in the past–my linked story collection HebrewPunk was one of the first books published by Apex–and I knew Jason was very open to less-traditional projects, for taking chances. I pitched it to him, he loved it—and we were blown away by the level of excitement and support the book generated. I have to admit we didn’t know what to expect at all, so it was very gratifying!
SJ: What was the inspiration or motivation for editing an anthology that features science fiction writers from around the world? Do you hope to publish more editions in the future? As a fan, I would love to see it become a yearly publication much like The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.
LT: The original conception for this is actually pretty much what you describe. The idea was that, while obviously not annual, it would be a sort of “best of” anthology, and ideally there would be more than one. I wanted to collect together work people might not otherwise see, or that they would see in isolation, and give a sort of snapshot of international sf/f at a particular point in time.
SJ: Will you describe the editing process? For example the decision to use reprints or solicit original material as well as which authors to approach.
LT: Well, as I mentioned, I was thinking in terms of a year’s best anthology, and mainly wanted to use reprints, ideally ones that have already appeared professionally in anthologies of magazines. I was very lucky to receive a few original stories, however, for the first issue, and we have six originals in the second volume, including stories from both Samit Basu and Will Elliott.
SJ: You are the Editor-in-Chief of The World SF Blog. What was the genesis of the site? Are you surprised with how popular the site has become?
LT: The site began as a companion to the anthology, really, but quickly became much more than that. In February we celebrate three years of operations! I was up for a World Fantasy Award for the blog, which was certainly unexpected. The continuing support for the site—and the sense of global community that has sprung around it—are very gratifying.
SJ: You have an impressive travel history. How has visiting different countries enriched your writing experience?
LT: The places I live in tend to influence what I write—a sense of place is quite important to me. I find it difficult to write about a place I’ve never been to or lived in!
SJ: How would you describe your writing style? Do you prefer writing in one format, (short, novel) over another?
LT: I like experimenting with as many different forms as I can. So far I’ve written novels, short stories, scripts for comics and am now playing around with screenplays. I think the novella’s my favourite length for fiction, incidentally, but it is also the least commercial!
I like to experiment with different modes of styles, which you can do more easily in the short form. If pressed, however, I’d have to say I have a weakness for hardboiled and noir. Still, too much of anything is never good for you!
SJ: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about? Where can we go to find out more about you and your work?
LT: My novel The Great Game has just come out–it’s a steampunk spy thriller and the third in the Bookman Histories series. And my picture book for adults, Going to the Moon—about a boy with Tourette’s who wants to become an astronaut when he grows up, but is bullied at school for his condition—is also just out, in the UK, with fabulous art by artist Paul McCaffery. You can always keep up to date with me at my blog—lavietidhar.wordpress.com—or on twitter @lavietidhar, where I seem to spend far too much of my time…
SJ: Thank you for the great interview.
LT: Thank you!